The Pinch: Humble Plastic Bag

Your old plastic grocery bags could be helping someone

the pinchThe Pinch is a new segment on the blog that will feature simple lessons you can use in a pinch.

Check out the awesome people at Faith Westwood UMC in Omaha, Nebraska featured on Yahoo! who are using plastic grocery bags to create sleeping mats for the homeless population in Omaha.

Incredible, Uplifiting Use for Old Plastic Bags: Sleeping Mats for the Homeless

You can go in several different directions after reading the article:

  1. Talk about homelessness in your own community and what you can do to help.
  2. Talk about taking care of the environment and others.

You can even use the resources provided in the article and start collecting plastic bags in your church and start making sleeping mats.

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The Pinch: Do Unto Others

the pinch
The Pinch is a new segment on the blog that will feature simple lessons you can use in a pinch.
Watch the video (click on the link below)
What reaction do you have watching this video?
Read Luke 10:25-37 or Luke 6:27-31
Your group has probably had an experience of mistreating someone. Spend time discussing those experiences and how we are to treat folks as followers of Jesus.
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The Pinch: ReTHINK Cyberbullying

the pinch


The Pinch is a new segment on the blog that will feature simple lessons you can use in a pinch.


First, take the time and read about this incredible young lady and her innovative plan to curb cyberbullying.

15 Year Old’s “ReTHINK” App aims to prevent cyberbullying.

Now, head on over to ReTHINK and check out more about the app.

You could go a number of ways with this lesson.

You could focus on cyberbullying and the real consequences it has on young people’s lives. Find a story online of cyberbullying or use this one or this one and have a discussion on kindness and grace. You could take some time to share these 11 facts about cyberbullying and then have students download the ReTHINK app (only android phones, sorry iPhones) or become a ReTHINK ambassador at their school.

Another lesson would be how young people can change the world. Share about Trisha Prabhu and how she didn’t just hear about cyberbullying but decided to use her talents to do something to stop it. Talk about ways your students can use their talents to help others.

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The Pinch: Word Maps

Word Map - purity

By Dusty Luthy

New Hope (Paducah) Youth Director

One of my favorite things to do in a group setting is to dig into scripture in a deep, meaningful way where everyone, regardless of spirituality, can participate.

Word Maps are one of my favorite tools to do this – and one of the most low-maintenance activities I do. I start with a circled theme word in the middle of a chalkboard, dry erase board or large newsprint and hand out related scriptures to different groups of kids. Our youth group at New Hope is on the large side, so three groups could have 8-10 kids each with one fairly meaty scripture or two shorter scriptures per group.

Each group then looks up that scripture, then reads it out loud and discusses what stands out to them. Then, we come together as a larger group, where each group shares their scripture. After reading the scripture, we then add words to describe/strengthen/explain the core word on the board, creating a bubble map. Use colored chalk or markers to make it eye-appealing.

Everyone is able to contribute, and because they’ve already discussed the scripture in a more intimate setting, they feel more comfortable sharing with the larger group. Using different Bible translations is also helpful to get a fuller use of language. At the end, the numerous bubble words help root the theme word in the youth’s brains so it has a more lasting definition.

Time needed: 30 minutes

Some themes to get you started:


1 Samuel 15:22

Psalm 100

Isaiah 29:13



Philippians 4:8

2 Timothy 2:21

Titus 2:11-14


Other themes to try: prayer, love, patience, sacrifice, Jesus, truth.

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The Pinch: Not By Sight

The Pinch is a new segment on the blog that will feature simple lessons you can use in a pinch.

Friends, let me introduce you to your new best friend; Deidox Films

Deidox Shorts is a ministry of Deidox Films Inc a 501(c)3 film production and distribution company. We are media missionaries.  Our mission is to produce and promote documentary films that help the Church reflect Christ and redeem culture.

This lesson will focus on the Deidox short: Alyssa

There are plenty of ideas you can discuss with your group after watching this film. Talk to them about walking by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) or true beauty. I love when she says, “The Lord spoke to me and he told me that I am beautiful on the inside. That I don’t have to worry about what I look like on the outside. That He is the only one who can tell me what I look like”.

Make sure to go over to Deidox films and check out their other films.

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The Pinch: We Need to Talk About Racism

The Pinch is a new segment on the blog that will feature simple lessons you can use in a pinch.


Picture by JamieSkinner00 on Flickr CC License 

From Ferguson, MO to SAE at University of Oklahoma, from #blacklivesmatter to #SAEhatesus we need to talk about racism in our youth groups.

In the youth ministries I’ve been a part of I’ve witnessed blatant racism by students. I’ve overheard “jokes” that students tell. I’ve also seen it be unconscious, not understanding that what they are saying is racist.

This one time at church camp, a white girl said in jest to another student, “Get your cotton pickin hands off of me.” She meant nothing by it and everyone laughed but when I mentioned to her the context of what she just said, she was horrified and apologized.

I’ve also witnessed students rally together to fight against racism. Just recently in Memphis, Central High School students gathered to march in commemoration with the 50th anniversary of MLK march in Selma, Alabama.

Our denomination is in the midst of discussions to unify our two denominations. One of the most glaring differences of these two denominations is skin color.

We need to talk about race.

It’s not enough to wish racism away, we have to be proactive with our groups and discuss this issue. You might even think about bringing your group to Memphis to experience the National Civil Rights Museum.

But this is the Pinch…so…

Below you will find several resources to help you talk with your youth groups about racism, prejudice and discrimination.

Do you have any good resources? Any comments? Share them in the comment section below.

Resources to use for lessons dealing with racism

Institute for Youth Ministry at PTS: Talking Race With Youth

The Source for Youth Ministry: All Equal in God’s Eyes

More Than Dodgeball: Stereotypes Part 1 & Part 2

Youth Worker: Blindside

Youth Ministry: District 9

If you are looking for a lighter introduction to your lesson think about using this video: Racist Coffee by Julian Smith

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The Pinch: From One Second To The Next

The Pinch is a new segment on the blog that will feature simple lessons you can use in a pinch.

From One Second To The Next is an haunting documentary by Werner Herzog about the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving is at the top or possibly the leading cause of deaths among teenagers. We don’t spend a lot of time discussing distracted driving in a real way but it needs to be something we talk about with youth.

Watch the documentary with your youth group and discuss.

If you are looking for a more formal discussion you can download a discussion starter over at simply youth ministry.

From One Second To The Next Discussion Starter

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